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Pigeon Stew (Salmis De Pigeons)

ingredients

serves 4 - 6
6 Pigeons, oven-ready with the giblets reserved
Salt and pepper to taste
175 g (6 oz) 12 Tbs Butter, melted
6 slices Streaky (fatty) bacon
125 g (4 oz) 1 cup Button mushrooms, cooked and drained
50 ml (2 fl oz) 1/4 cup Brandy
1 Truffle, drained and thinly sliced

sauce

1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Medium carrot, chopped
1 Bouquet garni
250 ml (8 fl oz) 1 cup Chicken stock
250 ml (8 fl oz) 1 cup Dry white wine
25 g (1 oz) 2 Tbs Butter
25 g (1 oz) 1/4 cup Flour
Salt and pepper to taste

method

1. Preheat the oven to moderate 180°C (Gas Mark 4, 350°F).

2. Rub the pigeons, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Place them in a large roasting pan and spoon over the melted butter. Lay a slice of bacon over the breast of each bird. Put the pan into the oven and roast for 40 minutes.

3. Remove the pan from the oven and remove the bacon from the birds. Transfer the pigeons to a carving board. Skin the pigeons and carve the meat into slices. Arrange the slices in a large flameproof casserole. Cover with mushrooms and sprinkle with half the brandy. Place the truffle slices on top of the mushrooms and sprinkle with the remaining brandy. Set aside while you prepare the sauce.

4. Chop the pigeon skin and giblets finely.

5. Pour off all but 125 ml (4 fl oz) (1/2 cup) of the cooking liquid from the pan. Strain these juices into a saucepan. Set over moderate heat and add the skin, giblets, the carcasses, onion, carrot and bouquet garni. Pour in the stock and wine, and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, or until it has reduced by about a quarter. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid into a large bowl, pressing down on the ingredients with the back of a wooden spoon to extract all the juices. Skim off any scum from the surface of the strained liquid.

6. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour to form a smooth paste. Gradually stir in the strained liquid and return to the heat. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, or until the sauce is thick and smooth. Season to taste.

7. Pour the sauce over the pigeon meat, cover and set over moderately low heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the meat to a warmed serving dish. Arrange the mushrooms and truffle around it and pour over half the sauce. Pour the remaining sauce into a warmed sauceboat and serve at once, with the meat and vegetables.

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